Blake Mycoskie, TOMS Shoes Founder, Working With Christian, Anti-Gay Focus on the Family

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Today, the internet noticed that Blake Mycoskie, the founder of the philanthropic slip-on shoe company TOMS, which donates a pair of shoes for every one bought (and has expanded greatly and now includes a wedding collection), has been working closely with Focus on the Family, which does not exactly work with the brand's totally chill image. Focus on the Family is an evangelical non-profit and the things that come along with that -- hating gay people, evolution, abortion -- clash mightily with the beliefs of most hippie, hipster, bearded, crunchy, countercultural(-ish), what-have-you types that have embraced the feel-good mission of TOMS and what everyone thought they stood for. We might have another Whole Foods on our hands!

Mycoskie's face is plastered plainly on the Focus website (as seen above) alongside the organization's president, Jim Daly, in association with the Feet on the Ground campaign.

Christian Today magazine has an article -- though it took over a week for most heathen bloggers to find -- about the conservative organization that mentions the unlikely partnership:

As this issue of Christianity Today goes to press, the ministry is scheduled to highlight the work of Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, a company that donates shoes to an impoverished child for every pair sold.

"A year ago, they were like, 'Who's that?'," Fleece laughs. Now the company is working to become a TOMS international distributor in Africa. "We're making slow strides here."

In many ways, Focus represents a larger struggle in evangelicalism over political and cultural engagement and the issues it prioritizes.

The rest of the piece centers on Focus's rebranding as a less hatable group for people like us, working its way out of the shadow of its bigoted, questionably associated founder, whose successor realizes that, "Christianity must transcend politics in order to change culture and politics," and has therefore backed off on the icky anti-gay stuff and will even "sit down with pro-choice organizations." Of course, the key is still Christianity.

It's clear that it's not a complete transformation or political 180, though, which could still leave progressive TOMS-wearers weary:

"The media is having a tough time figuring us out," says Tom Minnery, senior vice president of public policy for CitizenLink, Focus's legally independent political arm. "They say we're changing in tone and say, 'Aha! They're in a Rick Warren or Joel Hunter cubbyhole.' Then we are active in the defense of traditional marriage, which is seen by the media as hateful and homophobic, so they scratch their heads and say, 'Wait, I thought they were changing their tone.'"

As Jezebel writes, "There's nothing inherently political about distributing shoes to African children, of course," but you are the company you keep. And in Mycoskie's case, though he's been mum so far on the internet outrage, it will be interesting to see whether he's more interested in spreading his charity by partnering with a huge group like Focus, no matter the damage to TOMS' hip image, or if the bottom line will prevail. Expect a statement from Mycoskie on the issue soon.

Whether or not political anger could catch on enough to touch them remains to be seen, but remember, TOMS -- for all of its good -- is in the business of making money.

[via]


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41 comments
Alexis
Alexis

It's a mess how the devil will try and keep people from the truth. FOF does not hate anyone, who they hate is the devil who deceives God's created ones, made in his likeness and image, to believe the total opposite of what they were designed to be, do and have. Truth hurts, and may God grant all Christ followers the grace to continue to stand for what we KNOW to be true based on what the Holy Spirit has revealed to us. May every angry heart, enraged by this TOMS/FOF issue be transformed by the life saving grace of God. Christianity is all about LOVE, even when it hurts. Look to the cross...

Shncstategirl
Shncstategirl

Hating gays? That's false. Christians are taught to love all people including gays. We just don't believe some of their actions are what God intended for his children. Go Blake! Focus on the Family is a wonderful organization that believes in spreading God's word, not a hate group. I've been to the headquarters of FOF! Completely friendly and loving to everyone :)

AJ77
AJ77

TOMS are ugly anyway. What self-respecting gay person would make such a social AND fashion faux pas in the first place.

samuel sanchez
samuel sanchez

I dont see the big deal here. You have two organizations with different views and opinions coming together for a common cause. There is a lot to learn from this. If everyone acted this way, the world would be a much better place. 

bishopjordan
bishopjordan

Thanks for sharing. A real lot of useful info here.These are all great comments here. Very cool article.

Prophecy 

Simeon Mallette
Simeon Mallette

Well, believe it or not, a company has to make a profit to stay an existing company. And what's the big deal if he's involved with FOTF?

Mr Maladjusted
Mr Maladjusted

FUCK YOU!!! I'm a big gay hairy man and I'm wearing Tom's at a Drag Show with my boyfriend so fuck you!!! Soon as I get home I'm throwing away these bullshit hipster shoes away cos they make my feet stink anyway and you're a piece of shit. By the way you're not original!! These shoes are originally designed in the 80's and you bit their style and put "Tom's" on em and made millions. Douchebag!!!!!

demandequality
demandequality

From https://www.facebook.com/t​oms link http://www.startsomethingthatmatters.com/2011/07/a-s​inc... I known the full extent of Focus on the Family’s beliefs, I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event. It was an oversight on my part and the company’s part and one we regret. In the last 18 months we have presented at over 70 different engagements and we do our best to make sure we choose our engagements wisely, on this one we chose poorly.Furthermore, contrary to what has been reported, Focus on the Family is not a TOMS giving partner.So there is no misunderstanding created by this mistake, let me clearly state that both TOMS, and I as the founder, are passionate believers in equal human and civil rights for all. That belief is a core value of the company and of which we are most proud.

GG138
GG138

So what they have FOTF affiliations? They still donate a pair of shoes to someone, who otherwise don't have any! That still counts, right? 

Lisa
Lisa

People actually noticed via twitter well before 7/8.

Lisa
Lisa

People actually noticed before the 6/30 event.

concerned
concerned

I contacted the company at this link > http://www.toms.com/contacts/  and posted the following in the comment section.

Hello,

I understand that you have partnered with FOTF (Focus on the Family) which is an anti-gay, anti-abortion suppressive organization that I have no desire to associate with.

Please let me know if this indeed true so I can pass the information on to all my friends on and off the Internet.

I was under the impression that this was a forward thinking compassionate organization, I'll have to rethink that. Until such time that I hear back from you I will have to assume that the information is correct and will pass along the various links about this.

~previous customer

Grapegirl13
Grapegirl13

I just emailed the company and ask for statement regarding the assocoation of TOMS with FOTF.

KatM
KatM

Wow -- incredible boneheaded move by TOMS.  Do they have no idea who Focus on the Family?  Did they get suckered in by some Focus PR liar who hid the true nature of this organization from Blake?  Either way, sit back and watch this brand crash and burn.  If they are a public company, I'd short thier stock first thing on Monday. 

Mason Gentry
Mason Gentry

It is possible to speak at an event and not agree with all of the organizers beliefs you know. Move along, nothing to see here people. 

kathleen
kathleen

Either somebody at TOMS really failed to do their homework ..or TOMS supports an anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-education, rightwing Christian fundie hategroup like FotF.  Either way, it's bad for this organization.  Mycoskie better get out and explain himself ASAP, cuz this is going viral.

pl
pl

yep, my TOMS are history. will never wear or buy again. appalling that they would align with a hate group.

Nuwinepress
Nuwinepress

I pray for the day when being gay and Christian are not perceived as mutually exclusive. Hopefully books like RAW put out by NuWine Press will help to humanize the community of LGBT Christians ... but until then TOM's has a bit of a branding problem

mjm
mjm

they're the reason Howard Stern won't accept the honor if the Radio Hall of Fame inducts him, because these homophobes (along with Blimpbaugh and Imus) are in there. He told Wendy Williams (who was inducted last year) "I'm gonna chuck that glass bowl out the window if I get one!" *applauds*

you forgot to mention closet case Tim Tebow and his psycho mommie dearest who shill for this organization.

Bostjan Avsec
Bostjan Avsec

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Gridlock
Gridlock

Don't be obtuse, it embarrasses us all. There's quite a history of FOF's attempts to prevent equal rights for LGBT peoples. Do a google search and educate yourself.

Gridlock
Gridlock

Yes, everyone should work with noted hate groups instead of totally sidelining them. Up next: tea with the Klan, and a friendly soccer match with Stormfront.

Guest
Guest

Hi Simon... the problem is not him making a profit. The problems is he was selling an image... and that image was a cool, hip, urban left leaning dude that was doing the right thing... but the image has change to a psuedo-hip, bible thumping poser that hates gays/lesbians, thinks women are secondary to men and is using the poor to boost his bottom line... btw... his church... mosaic... is a southern baptist church... check out their web site... the bury the info... but you can find it on their FAQ page... a link to the southern baptist convention info... so that make blake a southern baptist... 

guest
guest

This is hate speak everyone.  

guest
guest

I agree GG, doing a good thing for people is never a bad thing.  It is not about politics, it is about giving shoes to people who need them.  Who cares who is giving them away, or working to give them away. 

Sulzinger
Sulzinger

No. Francisco Franco ran orphanages. Does that legitimate every horrible thing he did?

111
111

You do know that there are many ways to help the children, right? No need to give money to hate groups. (BTW, Blake was warned about the true nature of FoTF 2 weeks before the event but he chose to ignore the comments.

http://www.startsomethingthatm...

Whereryu
Whereryu

I agree and yes they are a hate group! im going to burn my Toms. 

guest
guest

a hate group??  Do you know anything about Christianity? 

Robyn Plane
Robyn Plane

I'm also a gay Christian and there are many of us who have learned how to balance our faith and sexuality in a healthy way despite the damage the church has done. The irony of this is that I planned on buying the TOMS wedding shoes for my entire wedding party. My entire gay wedding party. I believe what TOMS does is amazing but I have a difficult time giving them my money when they are linked with a group that would spend it trying to ban my marriage.

Seghenrinto
Seghenrinto

We gay Christians DO exist. I know it is hard for some to wrap their minds around that. This type of situation puts us in a dilemma seeing as were are in the middle. But I for one will remain there, not taking sides. Instead I will simply love as we are supposed to. I guess we need to be more vocal, us glbt Christians. 

Wherearyu
Wherearyu

It does matter, becuase where is the rest of the money going? How much of it is going to take away our right to choose? or to marry? or so on.. 

Beammeup
Beammeup

Apparently you DON'T!  Taught anti-gay zeal from the get-go.  Always out to preserve power and wealth for the "anointed by God" group.  Give me a break.

Gridlock
Gridlock

Pogroms. Crusades.Ethnic cleansing.Child molestation.Witch hunts.Slavery.Inquisition.Lies.Withholding of knowledge.Oppression.

We're very aware.

Wherearyu
Wherearyu

YES! they are haters in disguise, judging hypocrites.  Banning people who love each other to unite becuase they have found some way to interpret their religion to deal with their inability to be tolerant and loving. A loving non Christian God would never punish anyone for being human and acting out of his or her natural GOD given sexual preferences. Some uptight closeted homo phobic, conveniently constructed this bs as part of Christianities insanity back when the bible was written. It was just some insecure Sheppard trying to make a name for himself, trying to get some followers. Coming up with some doctrine. HE did get many followers as we see to this very day, yet as historians have uncovered he was smoking crack.

Robertmchenry2
Robertmchenry2

Yup. I know alot about it. Lets see.. crusades, witch hunts, preachers ranting and raving against jews, muslims, gays/lesbians... the southern baptists supported slavery... and were against civil rights... and these where just off the top of my head... 

Whereareyu
Whereareyu

dont buy them for your wedding. it will put a stormy cloud over a beautiful day.

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